How uncertainty in your business can drive success

Entrepreneurs are especially vulnerable to uncertainty. It was the late Anita Roddick, founder of the Body Shop, who said; “nobody talks about entrepreneurship as a survival skill, but that is exactly what it is – and what nurtures creative thinking”. Entrepreneurs are not readily assured of a monthly salary. This even while saddled with monthly costs and expenditures of running a business. All such incidences can make the times uncertain and it can be tough. All times are uncertain as we all live in the moment. Today, a business can enjoy increased sales and better client engagement. Yet, that doesn’t mean that the business future we desire is certain.

The price and the prize of entrepreneurship

The price of entrepreneurship is uncertainty, and the prize is a vision fulfilled, success even in the midst of uncertainty. Much of the process of entrepreneurship involves tremendous risk taking. Risk that is buoyed with competency, skills, ability, networking, service excellence and then good fortune. It is often the uncertainty in those moments that fuels your drive to success. I think that is what Anita meant when she said that the survival nature of entrepreneurship fuels creativity.

Uncertainty, the fuel for the drive to success

It has been said that the best way to predict the future is to create it. In other words, create your own certainties. What are those things that you are certain of in your business? Could it be your expertise? Could your certainty be the adaptable leadership of your organisation? Whatever you’re sure of can enable you to better anticipate black swans. Black swans are those rare, high impact and unpredictable events that bring serious consequences. We can’t predict tough times, but we can develop the resilience to cope with them.

A case study of resilience

How is that resilience developed? That goes to the heart of why a business exists. It goes into how a business is operated, knowing how to look uncertainty in the eye and knowing its limits. Imagine the amount of businesses across West Africa that were affected by the Ebola crisis of two years ago. One such business was the The Radisson Blu.

The Radisson Blu had just opened in Freetown, Sierra Leone. The city’s only international hotel chain, its owners must have looked forward to a surge of business. There was a scarcity of high quality international hotels in Sierra Leone, and the Radisson Blu was tipped to take advantage of the growing number of business travellers coming into Freetown –from mining companies, to UN and NGO staff, to professional services firms. Recently refurbished, the hotel was ready for business.

And then Ebola happened.

A major exodus of nationals and expatriates followed, as did an extreme decline in business travellers. Even nationals who might have enjoyed an evening meal or Sunday lunch with the family at Radisson Blu shied away fearing the dangers of coming in contact with bodily fluids from others. Staring uncertainty in the eye, the GM of Radisson Blu was decisive. Committed to his position as a leader, when everyone was leaving Freetown, he stayed -instilling trust, loyalty and confidence from his team as he did so. With the dip in business, Radisson Blu was forced to consider the inevitable –laying off the very staff they had invested massively in through hospitality and wellness training.

Relying on the support of unions, the issues at hand were discussed with staff. Everyone agreed to remain in their positions whilst taking a salary cut. What that lead to was tremendous team spirit, motivation and increased loyalty. Then when the international public health and disease control experts started coming into Freetown to manage Ebola, many checked into the Radisson Blu.

Best practice

There is something to be said for strong leadership and best practice, those standards and practices that govern how an entity or a professional service is operated. Deciding to deploy those standards in the operations of your business from day one, or as early as possible, is a plus. Whilst others may think you are creating unnecessary bottlenecks for your business, best practice can stand you out in the long term. For Radisson Blu, I imagine it must have been this best practice that rendered them the first choice hotel for those health workers, international reporters and international administrators that flew into Freetown to respond to the Ebola crisis.

We can’t always prevent uncertainties –otherwise they would not be called that– but we can develop our resilience and capacity to cope better with them. And we can do this through a process that I call “paying attention to the way you pay attention”.

4 simple ways to keep up on the digital inbound marketing trend

digital marketing trends

Are you interrupting your customers this year or are they on the hunt for you like a daily vitamin?

As you are trying to peacefully creep through the pages of Bella Naija, I mean do important research on the latest happenings around your entrepreneurial purists, the last thing you need are those pesky ads interrupting your research.

There are a few alternatives to those google ads and they call under the umbrella of inbound marketing. Inbound marketing practices have been taking over how we interact with users digitally. Inbound marketing is the ability to draw your customers to your site and products by creating highly engaging content. I emphasize to my clients – instead of interrupting users through traditional marketing methods, find other organic ways to flow into users’ day. .

Inbound practices are not only friendly to the user but they are economically friendly to entrepreneurs as well. It allows you to connect naturally to your users without spending a fortune on ads. Below are 4 effective ways to bring customers in.

1. Opt-in Emails

The lists built with care.

Your users visit your site and sign up to be apart of the greatness you have brewing. It’s an opt-in because they chose and verified that they wanted to receive that information from you.

It can be as simple as a “Sign up for our newsletter” box to the right or generously offering a free give away for signing up for your emailing list.

For example, if you’re a branding extraordinaire you may offer a quick and easy digital workbook in exchange for their information.  

Positive: Anyone that signed up for this emailing list is looking to have you there.

Difficulty: It takes time and strategic positioning to gather theses lists. You may have to form multiple partnerships with other entrepreneurs / businesses/ orgs to create visibility for yourself.

2. Thought Leadership

Are you an expert in your field? Do you have a niche area that you can speak about better than anyone else? Are you the new technology expert that’s going to tell me how solar powered refrigerators are going to change my life? Thought leadership has become the ultimate trend for entrepreneurs willing to share the best and most up to date information about their field.

Positive: Thought leadership opens doors for more speaking engagements and business opportunities because of your expertise.

Difficulty: You. Must. Be. Consistent. To whom much is given, much is required. Taking the step to being a thought leader, especially in a very in-demand field, requires consistency to remain relevant. If those refrigerators can suddenly teleport, I’m looking to you first to tell me why.

3. Blogs

A form of expressing the thought leadership are blogs! Start-ups to larger companies such as Price Water Coopers are utilizing the buzz. Potential customers, competitors and collaborators want to what you’re up to and where your interests lie. Fill them in.

Positive: It’s a quick and easy way to get the information to people that are already following your work.

Difficulty: There is a fine line between too little information and too much. People want to be engaged, educated and/ or entertained in a matter of a few minutes. One platform that I absolutely promote the utilization of is: A quick and easy platform that allows you to connect to fellow bloggers, business owners and politicians.

4. Community Building

My favorite building trend. Yes, I am shamelessly biased to this form of marketing. When you create a community, you create a space for your customers/ readers to feel engaged,included and connected.  This is the first market to sample that great item you have on display.

As your continuously building that tribe of people who are invested in your product and expertise, they give you the right to infiltrate their inbox. What will you do with that power?

Community building is also a great leverage when forming future partnerships. This community is your direct audience; this is a selling point when meeting with potential sponsors.  Who can they really reach by working with you?

In sum, goal setting and discipline are a few keys to success! Pick one that you haven’t started yet and add it to your already bubbling list of New Year resolutions. All of these items build on each other, but choosing one to focus on first will allow you to measure impact and what is and isn’t going well with how you engage your users.